The Chocolate Choo Choo & Dinner Train Rides
Celebrating a special occasion like Valentine’s Day is usually associated with an elegant restaurant or a romantic evening at a local hotel. A seldom considered alternative is a dinner train ride. Recently, a scenic train held its annual Valentine’s Day event while others tailored established champagne service just for Cupid’s “victims”. In this post, train operators can learn about the special ticketing and promotions used for dinner train rides should they wish to offer similar experiences.
The Chocolate Choo Choo
Several scenic trains run through the beautiful valleys of Ohio but there is one that becomes that more special during Valentine’s Day. Known as the “Chocolate Choo Choo”, the dinner train ride has just marked its third annual running, this year being more popular than ever before. The Chocolate Choo Choo is operated by the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway (HVSR), a non-profit entity, as part of its charter that includes "the preservation, restoration and operation of historic railroad equipment for the education and entertainment of the general public.” HVSR takes great pride in offering family oriented experience, but for Valentine’s Day it offers "Chocolate Choo Choo" event mostly for adults. Kaylyn Hlavaty of the The Post, describes the Chocolate Choo Choo experience:
The city of Nelsonville is offering couples a way to ditch the traditional Valentine’s Day celebration and opt for an evening on the historic Hocking Valley Scenic Railway. [The] Chocolate Choo Choo is a great way to start off Valentine’s Day by doing something different. En route to Haydenville, guests will be treated to an array of hors d’oeuvres - catered by Rhapsody Restaurant - such as grilled chicken satay and puff pastry bouchees with cream cheese artichoke spread.
Of note is the special circumstance for tickets to the dinner train ride. Being a seasonal operation, the official Hocking Valley Scenic Railway ticketing office is closed during the winter and the month of February. Ticketing for the special event was performed through the Athens county visitors bureau website or in-person at the station.
To increase public awareness of the non-standard ticket outlet, a sophisticated marketing and public relations effort was put into place. The public awareness campaign for ticketing included local newspaper and TV coverage, social media and of course word-of-mouth from past riders who praised the event. The Chocolate Choo Choo isn't the only dinner train ride tailored for Valentine's Day...
VIA Rail is Canada’s largest passenger rail service carrying hundreds of thousands of people of year but still operates with a very personal touch.
VIA routinely offers a champagne service to its passengers as a experiencing enhancing extra, but on Valentine’s Day the service takes on special meaning. In addition to the champagne service, VIA offers a travel package for Valentine’s Day called ‘Niagara Falls Wine Lovers & Gourmet Lunch’ trip. As the name suggests, the travel package is very popular with newlyweds. A lengthy review was recently published in Travel Pulse:
VIA Rail Canada is offering a number of romance packages to coincide with Valentine’s Day...The Niagara Falls Wine Lovers and Gourmet Lunch includes round-trip transportation by rail, two nights in a hotel, gourmet lunch and winery tour. The tour will start with a private tasting of award-winning wines at one of the many small wineries set along the scenic Niagara Escarpment. A drive along country roads will take travelers to Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery where they will see some of the most spectacular views in the area and have a fully guided tour of the winery followed by tasting of premium wines.
All special events offered by VIA Rail are available through the official website and packages can be customized for the amount of time riders have to spend on a getaway. Every VIA train ride offers several seating upgrades that can be mixed and matched with the special event packages.
While VIA is a very large operation, smaller train operators would do well to review the custom packages and seating options offered. Using VIA as a guide, private train tours can offer their customers a similar experience, but scaled down to a practical (and profitable) size.
Sell Tickets For Dinner Train Rides Online
In order to emulate the established practices of the Chocolate Choo Choo and VIA Rail, scenic train ride operators will need to use the right ticketing software.
ThunderTix train reservation software contains the tools to offer lucrative custom packages for any holiday or special event, including Valentine's Day. In addition to special ticket packages, we also help you increase profits with custom seating charts that enable bespoke pricing ("ocean-side view seating available for an additional price").
ThunderTix is also the reservation system to use for compliance with federal laws for passenger manifests. We offer support for barcode ticket scanning during boarding which will automatically compile an accurate passenger manifest for your staff to use before, during and after each scheduled operation.
Our train reservation software is priced as a flat annual license based on the number of tickets needed per year. The only cost outside of the license fee is between you and the merchant bank you choose for credit card processing. Be sure to take a look at our other features and sign up for a free trial today!